tonight on "nightline," deadly force. stunning destruction in the wake of giant tornadoes tearing through the south. we have the latest as the death toll passes 300. plus, a royal wedding. just hours to go until kate middleton and prince william walk down the aisle here at westminster abbey. with tens of thousands already assembling, we're in london where the david royal wedding has donned. a special edition of "nightline" starts right now. >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news, with terry moran and bill weir in new york city, and cynthia mcfadden in london, this is "nightline,"
april 28th, 2011. >> good evening, i'm cynthia mcfadden. here in london where it is 7:35 in the morning. in just a few hours, prince william the future king of england will enter westminster abbey behind me here and merrit woman who he has asked to be his queen, catherine middleton. it is the same place where his mother's funeral was held 14 years ago. last night when the prince and expectedly greeted well-wishers packing the parade route it was so like his mother, princess diana. it was indeed poignant. as is always the case of course when a parent is missing at the wedding of the child. before we turn to the celebration about to take place here in london, we turn to the tragic story unfolding tonight across a great swath of america, as thousands there are in mourning tonight for loved ones lost in the terrible tornados that have brought unimaginable
destruction. over so much of the south. abc's jim avila is there in concord, alabama. >> reporter: a record-breaking 173 tornadoes tore through 14 states. super cells, biblical in size and strength, ripping through homes and devastating farmland. frightening scenes of nature's fury. the worst breakout of tornadoes in 40 years. the hardest hit state? alabama. john brown from severestudios.com was in tuscaloosa when this twister, packing 200-mile-per-hour winds and reaching a mile wide barrelled through the town. and he caught it all on tape. you've seen quite a few of these, i'd imagine. where does this rank? >> oh, worst that i've ever seen. and i think the actual data comes out on this one, we're going to see some high winds with this one. i've never seen anything like it, when we saw it, it was
really tear-jerking to see it destroy people's lives and property. >> reporter: as dawn broke, humbled survivors sifting through what remains. a sea of debris. >> all of your photo albums are over there. >> reporter: judy cook hid in her closet to survive and came back to collect what she would find. >> where that red is painted, that was my carport. you see that truck way over there, had a toolbox on it? and it's over in a tree. >> reporter: six of her neighbors died in the storm. and as the day went on, we learned more than 300 deaths and more than a million without power. have you been back yet? the dramatic story of those who narrowly survived are harrowing. >> i could see pieces of the roof just flying off. >> reporter: did you think your life was at risk? >> yes. >> reporter: here in concord, alabama, karen mundy, hand in hand with her husband, on her first trip back to what was a two-story house.
entering today through the front window. it's where her brother-in-law died yesterday, and she survived, by climbing in her bathtub. >> i was just like this. i was down like that. i just covered my head up. i was just holding on right here. >> reporter: could you feel yourself being pulled? >> i could feel, just feel it shaking me. >> reporter: even for those who did not take a direct hit the power outages have led to gas lines because the pumps have no power. insignificant, perhaps to those like karen mundy, who lost their homes and loved ones. >> i don't have anything. that's my home, all gone. >> it's all gone. >> reporter: in a spring night, they will never forget in a year it will go down in the weather records. i'm jim avila for "nightline" in concord, alabama. >> our thoughts and prayers go
out to all the families of all the people lost and injured in those terrible storms. and just ahead, the scene right before the wedding here in london and the story of the royal bridegroom and the two women he has loved the most. the one he will marry and the one who cannot be here to see him walk down that aisle.w3 ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ introducing purina one beyond a new food for your cat or dog. if your racing thoughts keep you awake... sleep is here, on the wings of lunesta.
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>> ann: th >> announcer: this special edition of "nightline" continues from london with cynthia mcfadden. >> good evening again from london. everything now in place for this historic day, when the heir to the throne will take a bride who is, well what they call around here, a commoner. it's a break with tradition and that country has seemed to embrace it.
jeffrey kofman joins me now live from outside buckingham palace where people have been camping out for days. jeffrey, paint a picture for me what it is like down there. >> reporter: they really have, cynthia. they really have. if you want a front row seat a fairy tale this is where you want to be. we are literally in front of buckingham palace here. these people have been camping for the night. it's been cold for the night. they've kept warm by huddling under sleeping bags, in tents, and singing songs all night. now the hours upon us in about two hours from now, we will see the queen driven down here on the way to her grandson's wedding. in about four, 4 1/2 hours the royal landau will come back and we will see william and kate as they enter buckingham palace. and if we just point over there, you will see the balcony where we will see the royal kiss and that's why these people wanted to be here. now, there are people from all of them have union jacks, the british flag here but make no
mistake after brits, the most common nation of origin, the united states of america. these people are all americans from five, six different states and they wanted this front row seat. what was so important about it? why do americans want to see this? >> it's history. >> it's a fairy tale. it's a cinderella center, it's romantic and a lot of man are neid come by the women. >> yeah. >> and that is the story. people just want a front row seat on spectacle and it doesn't get better than this. cynthia. >> well, thank you, jeffrey. of course the morning papers are out and perhaps the sun sums it up best. the feeling here "mum would be so proud." well, one of these two women in this young prince's wife, his new bride-to-be and his proud mother, how to understand the mother's legacy for the bride. >> reporter: once upion a time, last november to be precise, their very first public moments as an engaged couple, there was
that ring. tying together the present and the past. >> it's very, very special. >> it's my mother's engagement ring. so, i thought it was quite nice. obviously she's not going to be around to share in the fun and excitement of it all. this is my way of keeping her sort of close to it all. >> reporter: in so many ways, she already is. at first glance, their stories seem similar. two beautiful young women marrying into the royal family, while the whole world watches. we remember diana as the people's princess. glamorous, outspoken and compassionate. qualities we see echoed in kate. but perhaps it's in their differences that we see diana's real legacy. >> he really chose the un-diana. i don't mean he didn't adore his mother, he absolutely did. but there was so much drama and craziness, so much tragedy, really, in his life as a child growing up that he really needed someone to be the anchor, not the drama in his life.
>> reporter: as a 19-year-old bride-to-be, diana was as much a girl as a lady. before they married, she had only met charles 13 times, and the pressure of public life was almost too much for her to bear. >> diana's body language was very closed. you could see that she wasn't comfortable with the cameras. you would see her looking down and allowing the fringe to cover her eyes because she didn't want to be photographed. >> reporter: her tortured relationship with the press would last throughout her life. she died trying to get away from the paparazzi, and none of us will ever forget this image. of william and harry sol omly following her casket through the streets of london. which is yet another reason while so many people are so invested in william's marriage. his mother's marriage was just as much of a spectacle. >> that real feeling of just joy and happiness. >> reporter: now, a designer, based in the bahamas, india hicks was there, just 13 when he godfather prince charles invited
her to be a bridesmaid at the wedding. her job was to deal with that gigantic 25-foot train. >> getting her back in that carriage, we just shoved it. i mean, the world was watching. we had a certain amount of time to get her back in that carriage so it was just shove it. >> reporter: she got to know diana in the weeks leading up to the wedding attending endless fittings and rehearsals. >> it's interesting again looking back, i never saw her with her mother or her sisters. she always came alone. i think it probably was the sign of a woman who was at sea already. she wasn't terribly grounded, even at that stage. >> reporter: at 29, catherine already seems more self-confident. perhaps as a result of growing up here, in what's been described as a chocolate box of a british village. bucklebury. kate grew up knowing the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. all of whom she's invited to her wedding. the owners of the local grocery
store will be there. there it is. beautiful. >> reporter: as will the owner of the local pub. and the butcher. >> it's going to be just such a fantastic day to see them married. i hope to be alive to see them crowned king and queen. >> reporter: kate seems to be beloved in bucklebury and throughout england. it is easy to see why. >> when she's out shopping, she's smiling, flicking her hair. she's very aware of her presence. that took diana years to master. >> reporter: some believe catherine middleton will have a small transition into royal life. >> kate's shown that she is trustworthy. she's discreet. even when the couple broke up, twice, she never muttered a word to anyone. ♪ the first day that i met you >> reporter: jules knight was friends with william and kate in college. he is not surprised kate has stood up to the pressure so far. >> she's not the kind of girl you'd see falling out a nightclub. you know, she's really a
sensible girl. she's very, very engaging to talk to. very down to earth and normal and very loving person. >> reporter: william and kate have lived together on and off for the past eight years. and they've tried to live as normal a life as possible. it's another lesson he learned from his mother. >> she took them to the cinema. she took them to mcdonald's. and i think all of these things, even if they weren't aware they were being taught, this was diana transferring her legacy and her humanness. >> reporter: and diana's ring will be on kate's finger as she walks down the aisle. a symbol that the mother william loved so dearly will always be with both of them. mom would be so proud. just ahead the groom will wear his irish guard uniform, and the bride will wear white, but who designed it? i didn't realize i was drifting into the other lane. [ kim ] i was literally falling asleep at the wheel. it got my attention, telling me that i wasn't paying attention. i had no idea the guy in front of me had stopped short.
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time now until the big moment is truly short and the crowd can sense it, the thousands of spectators gathered in front of westminster abbey right here below me, have begun to break into spontaneous cheers and this morning the two big questions are, will it rain? the answer, a tentative no. and what will the bride wear? for that i hit the town with fashion guru tim gunn. >> reporter: what last longer than many royal weddings is the fashion commentary above them. was diana's dress too big? was camilla's hat a winner? >> off we go. >> off we go. >> this is really thrilling. >> reporter: so queue the karens we brought america's top fashion guru tim gunn to london to guide us through the dos and don'ts of what is poised to be the most-watched wedding in history. first up, the dress. what should a royal bride wear?
well, there's no place better to go know that the boutique of one of london's top designers. no lack of wedding gowns. >> no, no lack of wedding gowns here. >> reporter: can kate wear a strapless gown. >> no will definitely have covered and that's royal protocol. it's part of the expectation and that's the same actually for the guest as well. >> i heard that if there is risque people may be tapped on the shoulder and take it away. >> can you imagine that? >> it could happen. >> reporter: so how would she dress kate if she could? >> i could see kate middleton in this. >> this silo wet would look fantastic on her. she's tall. the perfect figure for it. >> reporter: do we have one more? oh, how beautiful. >> this is gorgeous. >> oh, i love this dress. it might be my favorite. and we know that you were asked to do a sketch? >> absolutely. >> i thought it would be fantasttake she actually arrive with a really magnificent silk
zmoet a reveal. i wish we could air this piece before the wedding. >> we will. >> because kate should see this. >> it's too late for kate. >> reporter: moving on, no princess bride would be complete without the tiara. and there's really only one place to buy them. g g garrard's. the oldest jeweler in the world. >> we have --ao we happen to have four in stock. >> don't you love it, stocked tiara. >> i think that is linda carter wonder woman. what do you think? >> not a good look. >> reporter: but what about the ring? tim? >> stunning. >> after all, prince charles bought princess diana's famous engagement ring which now sits on kate middleton's finger right here. this is beautiful. how much would this ring cost? 24,000 pounds. so $40,000? >> yeah. >> see and oh, i just eye can't
get it off. and if you're lucky enough to be one the twhem those 1900 invited guests you better be sporting that most british of accessories, the hat. next up the work shop of philip treacy the most famous hatmaker in the world. from lady gaga to the duchess of cornwall. he made this hat for kate. the women in his work shop are burning the midnight oil creating the confections whole grace the heads of royals and regulars when kate and william wed. >> everything is handmade? >> everything is completely handmade. it's fun for us to work with kind of hardcore english aristocrats where we say, any possibility you could bring in some diamonds? >> oh. >> and they do. >> oh wonderful. >> we're doing a version for somebody for the royal wedding in a navy satin. >> which is for he or his wife? >> anyway, she's beautiful. >> she is.
>> gorgeous. >> has her own fashion company. >> yes. >> reporter: he's not allowed to tell us but we think who he means but what about his royal clientele. >> when she stepped out of her car with her dad at the wedding, will be wearing this and then it's going to grow. this is nothing, only started. >> reporter: go back to catherine middleton. >> she came here one day to have a hat made. and she is very beautiful. more beautiful in real life. she will be a brilliant ambassadoress for fashion in general. >> she loves hats. >> well, she has to. >> reporter: after all, she's british. and mine's a fake. thanks for watching abc news. stay with us tonight on the west coast for a special "jimmy kimmel live" as will see that jimmy has his own way of toasting the royal wedding